This pages gives you lots of information about Learning Disabilities. Click on the questions below for more information.
- What is Learning Disability?
A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities – for example household tasks, socialising or managing money – which affects someone for their whole life.
People with a learning disability tend to take longer to learn and may need support to develop new skills, understand complicated information and interact with other people.
The level of support someone needs depends on the individual. For example, someone with a mild learning disability may only need support with things like getting a job. However, someone with a severe or profound learning disability may need fulltime care and support with every aspect of their life – they may also have physical disabilities.
People with certain specific conditions can have a learning disability too. For example, people with Down’s syndrome and some people with autism have a learning disability.
It’s important to remember that with the right support, most people with a learning disability in the UK can lead independent lives.
There are different types of learning disability, which can be mild, moderate or severe. In all cases a learning disability is lifelong.
It can be difficult to diagnose a mild learning disability as the individual will often mix well with others and will be able to cope with most everyday tasks. However, they may need support in other areas of their life such as filling out forms.
People with a severe learning disability or profound and multiple learning disability (PMLD), will need more care and support with areas such as mobility, personal care and communication. People with a moderate learning disability may also need support in these areas, but not definitely.
Thanks to Mencap for these definitions.
- Learning Disability or learning difficulty?
Some people use ‘Learning Difficulty’ as an umbrella term to cover everyone who may have some difficulty learning – this could be due to mental illness, emotional or mental health problems, injuries, or any other factor that may make learning more difficult for them.
Consultant paediatrician Dr Martin Ward Platt says: “It’s easy to give the impression, by using a term like ‘learning difficulties’, that a child has less of a disability than they really do.”
A Learning Disability is a clinical diagnosis. Some children with learning disabilities grow up to be quite independent, while others need help with everyday tasks, such as washing or getting dressed, for their whole lives. It depends on their abilities. NHS Choices has more information about coping with a diagnosis.
- What should I do if I am worried about my child?
Before you do anything, familiarize yourself with ‘What to Expect, When’? Some children just need a little extra time to meet certain milestones — yours may be one of them. Some learning disabilities can be diagnosed at birth, but many may not become apparent until your child starts school.
If something is bothering you about the way your child is behaving, or if it seems very different from the way other children that age behave, write down your observations. That way you can remember exactly what you saw or felt, and you’ll be able to tell whether what you saw gets better or worse.
If you are still concerned, you can talk to your GP or health visitor. Carefully explain what you’ve observed. A practitioner like a GP or Health Visitor has specialist training and may be able to calm your fears quickly, or refer your child for an assessment.
- What help and support is available in Devon?
- What do different professionals do to support a child with Learning Disabilities?
- What can I do as a parent carer to support a child with Learning Disabilities?
- What is the process for getting assessed for Learning Disabilities?
A learning disability can be diagnosed at any time. A child may be diagnosed at birth, or you might notice a difference in your child’s development during early childhood. For some people it may be many years before they receive a diagnosis, while others may never receive a diagnosis at all.
If you suspect your child may have a learning disability, you should…
- Where can I get more information?
page updated 13/04/18